grounded in relationship

Mahopac, NY

I'm still spinning a bit after this past weekend. A frustrating missed turn (no street sign), then getting caught in the rain again. And Heather's walking stick was stolen from outside a library. After that, though, things improved dramatically. Saturday night we were invited to stay inside the church we stopped at, and as we left the Sunday service we were invited to brunch by Adam and Paulette, followed by an afternoon of canoeing and swimming at their cottage on the river. They then took us right to the church we planned to visit Sunday night. It is a big one, but the people were very welcoming and friendly. The service was for younger people, with a rock band leading worship (quite good, in my opinion), an energetic and engaging preacher, and a strong emphasis on community. Lots of people there were interested in our walk, too. People must have prayed over us five or six times.

And then Dave took us home with him. A high energy guy, enthusiastic about everything, with a pretty startling conversion story. And a hiker. He was a wonderful host and we stayed up till eleven talking, then got up early because he was headed out for a day hike. He took us along and dropped us a day's walk down the road, leaving us with a very generous gift (and a pair of hiking socks).

So a very good weekend, though a little unsettling for me. Just so many unexpected changes of plans and new places and people (very different from each other) so quick in succession. It's made me feel more appreciative of Heather, my constant friend through all this. A sense of groundedness not in place or plan or mission or possessions, but in the solid relationship that grows with us on the journey together. We've also been taking time to talk about some of the things that have caused friction between us in the past. Finding ever more value in the enduring relationship between us, when everything else seem unstable and changing.

Which of course only imitates (hopefully) the enduring relationship with God who goes with us on our journey, through all changes. The relationship where we can truly find security and groundedness. That's a theme I've written about before, especially during walks. It feels even more real to me now.

I wonder if Jesus was teaching this when he called his disciples to leave everything and follow him, giving up everything that made up their lives and having to find themselves again in relation to him. Because that's all they had left.

That also brings up the distinction I was thinking about while walking this morning. That Jesus did not say he would follow us; we're called to follow him. He's always around ("I am with you always"), but we're only with him, knowing his presence, when we walk the road he was (and is) on. "If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also." (Jn 12.26)